Elon Musk leads campaign against robotic arms race

MICHAEL REYNOLDS

'Robo Sally' (C), a robot developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University with funding from the US Department of Defense, is operated by Robotics and Controls Engineer Mike Kutzer (back L), during the Unmanned Systems 2013 exhibition and symposium held by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, USA, 14 August 2013. The exhibition features state of the art unmanned vehicles, including aerial vehicles for civil and military use.

Elon Musk leads campaign against robotic arms race


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Elon Musk is the de facto face of a campaign by 116 leading robotics experts from 26 countries to ban the development of military robots with a “kill” function.

The campaign hails UN arms control initiatives and calls for an outright prohibition of “killer robots.” In a joint letter, the leaders of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics industry warn against a “third revolution” in warfare.

An Open Letter to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

The scientists and entrepreneurs are warning against a “Pandora’s Box” that will be hard to close, that is, a power that could serve despots and terrorists.

“We do not have long to act,” the signatories warn, calling for this autonomous arsenal to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Autonomous weapons, or killer robots, engage targets without human intervention.

Other famous signatories are Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Musk is particularly significant for the campaign in that he has been regularly attracting attention to the broader dangers emanating from Artificial Intelligence, which he fears could turn machines into an existential threat for human kind unless its power is harnessed.

 

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